The Investigators

May 20, 2014 12:30 PM by Matthew Schwartz

N4T Investigators: Kiosk vendor fired for stiffing employees

TUCSON - Two women say their new job turned out to be a con job. Sisters Claudia Acevo and Racquel Montanez say they sold phone protectors at the "Invisible Shield" kiosk at Park Place Mall. They claim they worked there for two weeks and were never paid, that they were each owed $1756.00.

The women said they were both facing eviction from their apartments as a result.

"This is our money, we worked for that money," Claudia Acevo told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "and she promised us something that, now, how are we supposed to pay our bills? What are we supposed to do?"

They say Tammy Cannito claimed she was the owner and recruited them with talk of bright futures and big money.

Racquel Montanez said, "$2,000 bi-weekly sounded pretty good. Plus 42% commission. It's almost ridiculous."

The women showed the News 4 Tucson Investigators a Facebook message they claim Cannito sent to their older sister, mentioning the $4,000 monthly salary, and also that she would pay their health insurance.

Claudia said, "It sounded too good to be true. Everybody told me that."

Still, both women quit their previous jobs to work at the kiosk.

Racquel said "She (Cannito) sounded good, like she sounded like she was the boss. After just a few days she was telling us we, you know, could move up."

But after about a week at work, the sisters grew suspicious by a lack of job-related paperwork; there were no timesheets or any other documentation, only W-4 tax forms. They couldn't log on to the company's payroll site. They say Cannito blamed that on a technical glitch.

Claudia told us, "She said, 'I promise you. I promise you, I promise you, I promise you, there won't be a problem."

The women say there was a big problem: Their first paycheck, due May 5th, never came. Although they have no paperwork showing they worked there, they did save text messages they say came from Cannitto.

On May 6, Claudia texted Cannito,"So when will I have my check?" Tammy replies, "By 3 at the latest."

Later that day, Cannito texts that she's depositing the women's' combined paycheck, more than $3500, into Racquel's account, and that "I'll call you and her when it's all done." The sisters say the money was never deposited.

We approached Tammy Cannito outside Park Place Mall. She told us she never claimed to own the kiosk, and, moreover, that Claudia and Racquel never worked there.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators and Cannito had this exchange:

News 4 Tucson Investigators: "Didn't they work here?"
Cannito: "No, not at all."
N4T: "They didn't?"
Cannito "No."
N4T: "They're lying?"
Cannito: "Yes."
N4T: "Why did they contact us and say that they worked here?"
Cannito: "I have no idea, I don't know."

But Racquel Montanez says she even drove Cannito to work some days. Both sisters say they and Cannito always worked the same shifts, almost always with no other employees. The sisters think Cannito got paid for their hours, and received three salaries.

Claudia said, "I believe that now. Yeah. That she hired us to do her work."

We said to Cannito, "We've seen texts that you've sent. It came from your phone, these texts."
Cannito replied, "I'm not even going to go into this right now." We told her we were trying to get her side of the story. She walked away and went inside the mall.

About an hour later, we called the phone number for Cannito that was given to us by the sisters. We believe that the woman who answered was Cannito. When we identified ourselves, she said, "Wrong number," and hung up.

After we questioned Cannito last Thursday, we contacted Invisible Shield's corporate office. On Friday, Tammy Cannito got fired. By the kiosk's real owner. That would be Jordan Scott.

Turns out the sisters' suspicions were correct, Tammy Cannito was not the owner, she was a sales rep.

Today, in the office of Scott's attorney, Jeffrey Marks, Scott met the victims. Then she did something that she, as the other victim here, didn't have to do.

Scott paid the women.

She said, "Today, I want to present each of you with a check for the full amount of the hours, and thank you so much for coming forward." She gave them $1756.00 each.

Claudia Acevo told us, "Now we don't have to worry about not being able to pay our bills. We're both grateful for the news, News 4 Tucson. And for Jordan as well to do what she did, because she didn't have to."

Scott says she had no idea any of this was going on.

Cannito could be charged with fraud by law enforcement. Kiosk owner Jordan Scott could sue as a private person, and due to the amount involved, it would be a Justice Court civil matter. However, at this time, Scott's attorney Jeffrey Marks says there are no plans to sue Cannito.

The sisters say they will now apply for real jobs at that kiosk. The real owner will make sure they fill out all the required paperwork.

If you have a story you'd like us to check out, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call (520) 955-4444.

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